Maryland was one of nine states that had some form of may-issue laws before the Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case that struck down a centuries-old law in New York. May-issue means applicants must pass basic requirements, and the issuing authority (county sheriff, police department, etc.) is allowed to use its own discretion in either issuing or denying a permit. Some may-issue states require an applicant to show “good cause” for obtaining a permit, while others require the applicant to show he or she is of suitable character and may require character references to authorize a permit. Now, New York and eight other states, are required to issue permits/licenses if the applicant meets the basic requirements set by the state. So what does this mean for Maryland?
What Did the Laws Look Like Before Bruen?
Before the Supreme Court struck down the centuries-old law in New York, it was next to impossible to obtain a concealed carry license in Maryland, as well. An applicant would need to show a “good and substantial reason” for needing to carry a firearm for self-defense. The Secretary of the Maryland State Police would then determine if the “good and substantial reason” was sufficient enough to warrant a permit to carry a firearm outside the home. For most applicants, the “good and substantial reason” aspect of the process was hardly ever met, leaving many law-abiding citizens without proper means of self-defense.
In addition to the difficulties in obtaining a permit before the ruling, Maryland gun laws are quite stringent. While Maryland is a Castle Doctrine state, there is a duty to retreat, requiring people who are outside of their homes to retreat or avoid danger if possible before using deadly force to defend themselves. Deadly force is only legal when defending oneself from the immediate threat of serious injury or death. Also, Maryland has a magazine limit of no more than 10 rounds. A person may not manufacture, sell, offer for sale, purchase, receive or transfer a detachable magazine that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition for a firearm.
Maryland’s Response to the Supreme Court Decision
Maryland lawmakers responded quickly after the Supreme Court ruling by acknowledging that their “good and substantial reason” requirement was unconstitutional. From a letter issued on July 6, 2022, the Office of the Attorney General stated “the Department is not required to continue enforcing — and, in fact, may not continue to enforce — the ‘good and substantial reason’ requirement in processing public-carry permit applications.” Other leaders, such as Baltimore’s Mayor Brandon Scott, issued a statement condemning the ruling by saying that “this decision will make it more difficult for cities like Baltimore to create actual public safety.”
So far, Maryland has not signed any new legislation in response to the Supreme Court ruling unlike other states, such as New York and California. However, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-46) promised to enact similar laws to those that New York just passed in the next legislative session set for January 2023.